DAYTON, Wyo. — The Wyoming Board of Education on Friday approved new K-12 science standards that were initially delayed because of concerns about what students were being taught about global warming.
Educators and others say Wyoming’s current standards are more than 10 years old and are outdated. The new standards are part of an effort to better prepare students in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“I do think they represent a marked improvement over what we have today,” Education Board Chairman Pete Gosar said.
The new standards must be approved by Gov. Matt Mead, who has 75 days to act.
If Mead approves the standards, it will be up to local school boards, teachers and administrators to decide on specific curriculum and instructional methods for each district in the state.
The standards approved Friday during a board meeting in Sheridan County are the board’s second attempt at a revision. The first attempt was halted in 2014 over concern about the use of Next Generation Science Standards, which were developed by organizations outside the state.
Some objected to how the Next Generation standards addressed human-caused global warming. Fossil fuels extraction is the state’s main industry.
According to the Wyoming Board of Education, the proposal is modeled after the Next Generation Science Standards but customized for students with traditional concepts and new features, such as engineering and technological applications.
John Friedrich, a staff member of Climate Parents, an organization that believes humans are a major cause of global warming, said he was pleased with Wyoming’s proposed science standards because they don’t deviate too much from the ones that drew opposition.
“They made a couple of tweaks but nothing that was too significant,” Friedrich said.
In general, he said, Wyoming students “will learn the evidence about human caused climate change. So obviously we’re especially pleased about that.”
Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said his organization “kind of stayed out” of the development of the standards.